Sanctuary Restaurant & Pub
Taps: 25 / Bottles: 100
Cask: N / Beer-to-Go: N
Ratings: 22 | Reviews: 22
4.2/5 rDev -5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4 | $$
The Sanctuary has a very good selection of Iowa craft beer (including the delicious Toppling Goliath beers), American craft beer, and Belgian beer. Quite a few selections on draft (I think at least 30?), more in bottles. There is a good selection of food, and the food is solid, not gourmet, but above the average bar food. The prices for beer and food are reasonable. It has a cozy, dark atmosphere, lots of wood. The bar staff is knowledgable about beer. Near downtown and the ped mall area. I go anytime I am in Iowa City.
02-29-2012 22:15:08 | More by cpolking
3.78/5 rDev -14.5%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4 | $$$
Stopped by here with my wife and friends on a trip back to Ohio for the winter holiday.
I wasn't fond of the atmosphere. It was dimly lit, on the verge of dark. I could have tolerated that if it were quiet, but it wasn't. Acoustics in that place were crazy: no music, but the narrow and long room just created some kind of noise chamber.
Service wasn't great, but above average. The server had no idea what the styles of beer were that they had on tap. I'm always a little confused by a "beer bar" that employs people who aren't knowledgeable about beer.
Selection was decent. Only a small portion of the tap list was made up of regional breweries (I believe three at the time). Otherwise, some pretty standard microbrews.
Food was good, a bit expensive.
Overall, this is a nice bar given its selection. A bit too pricey for my liking.
01-11-2012 16:33:46 | More by quaybr
5/5 rDev +13.1%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 5 | $$
LOVED this place! I recently went in there on a Monday night while in Iowa City visiting some friends. Great ambiance! Blues and Jazz music playing in the background. Dimly lit with dark wood and green lanterns. This place was exquisite considering that its in a party-oriented college town.
For a Monday it was quite busy. I assuming because it was their deal night (3.45/pint). The bartender was extremely cordial - I think his name was Nick - and answered all of my wife and I's questions thoroughly on top of having us laughing our pants off. And if I didn't know any better I would say that the bartender and the two servers were related! The way they interacted was hilarious and very comfortable. It was like brothers and sisters jokingly pick at each other. They were very pleasant and made our time at the Sanctuary fun and relaxing. We felt as if we were part of a family. A+++ for service and ambiance.
The selection was pretty good. Would have liked to see some more Oktoberfests on tap, they one had one. But they had Old Rasputin on tap which was fantastic and some other notable beers including; Gulden Drak, HooblanChoufe, Framboise Lambic, and (not remarkable but oh so good!) Rogue Hazelnut Brown.
I also had the Spaghetti and Meatballs which was AMAZING. I was expecting run of the mill food, but the dish was outstanding. My wife had some MahiMahi dish which she loved.
Overall, I was incredibly surprised by the place. I can't believe I went to college/grad school there and never found it. Shame on me! But if you get the chance, you will not be wasting your time there! Service is phenomenal, food is wonderful, beer is variant and high quality, and the ambiance is low-key and relaxing. Dont miss this one!
10-01-2011 18:24:35 | More by GoinGoinGone
4.34/5 rDev -1.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | $
Criss-crossing across Iowa, we needed a place to stop and take a break, and Sanctuary fit the bill. Late Friday night there was a manageable crowd, the bar area was only half full so we opted for a two top table.
Inside the front door, there's a door off to the left marked "Red Room" with additional dining/lounge space. Inside the narrow main room, the bar was on the right, with tables and lounge seating on the left. Antiqued leather chairs, dark wooden tables and dim green lamps gave it a cozy, relaxed vibe. The bar and tables were a dark reddish wood, and the back bar was rustic with illuminated stained glass panels. Above that there was a row of brewery mirrors and decorative wooden crates. On the exposed brick walls was an eclectic mix of framed artwork. The place had the feel of an English pub or european cafe. This was reflected in it's broad selection of import bottles, covering a variety of styles.
Seeking local Iowa beer, there were a couple that we settled on, Golden Nugget IPA from Toppling Goliath, and Hop Wrangler from Peace Tree. The bartender and patron next to me were happy to chat beer and give local recommendations. He mentioned the Hop Wrangler was the end of the keg, asked if that was ok, and only charged a short pour for it. On a shelf above the bar I noticed a bottle of Utopias and a few 750's of Saison-Brett. Bottle list was extensive, sorted by country with tasting notes.
We didn't try the food this time, but it looked good from what was coming out of the kitchen. Overall a cozy little place, a good spot to spend a couple hours with some good company and quality beers.
06-27-2011 14:42:49 | More by emerge077
4.36/5 rDev -1.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | $$$
Stopped in on for what I thought would be a quick stop on a Tuesday around 4pm after a stop a John's Grocery (for beer glasses).
A tad bit off the beaten path which is fine for me. Meter parking around the corner. Plan exterior which opens up to a very cozy, dimly lit European interior. I made my way to the bar where there were two other people.
Twenty seven beers on tap. Eight Belgians, one cider (Ace Pear), and the rest a good blend leaning to pale/IPA.
Remarkable selections include:
Brother Thelonious 10oz $6
Framboise Lambic 10oz $7
Gulden Draak Brown Ale $7
Mikkeller Beer Geek Breakfast 10oz $8
New Belgium Grand Cru and La Folie 10oz $5
IPA's form local breweries Toppling Goliath and Peace Tree
Old Rasputin $6
My bartender turned out to be the owner, Woody, and I got to chat him up after his shift. Wound up spending a hour too long here as I had to be in Des Moines that night. The next set of bartenders included a guy on his first day who was a regular prior to that but I'm not quite sure he had the hang of proper glassware and pouring - no big deal.
Very nice place and highly recommended to fill the void of no brewer in a college town like this.
06-24-2011 20:00:05 | More by Yetiman420
4.75/5 rDev +7.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5 | $$
Stumbled upon The Sanctuary only because I heard they had quite a few taps. I knew nothing else. I found a great world behind those pub doors.
They have 27 taps. They have a great bottle selection. Their food is fun, inventive, and tasty. The atmosphere is sophisticated and chill at the same time.
What more could you ask for?
If you are in Iowa City and would like to escape from the typical downtown frat bar scene that is Iowa City, go to the Sanctuary. They have affordable, great beer. The bartenders will treat you with respect, the music is not overwhelmingly loud, and most likely is some mellow classy jazz. No where else in Iowa City, or eastern Iowa can you get the vibe that you find at the Sanctuary. A great place to spend your hard earned dollars.
02-22-2011 04:21:10 | More by MarcatGSB
4.25/5 rDev -3.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 3.5 | $$$
A:A dimly lit pub with a nice sized bar area and seperated dining section. It's definitely a little more 'classy' than your average Iowa City meat market type bar. The kind of place where your worries disappear the second you walk through the door. Great vibe for conversation.
Q and S:One of Iowa's better(top 3?) tap/bottle lists. 25 or so taps from Rogue to Flying Dog and some from across the pond. A nice, well rounded selection in which there's something for everyone.
Service:Always attentive and on top of almost empty pints. Sometimes younger guys bartending, but they're not punks or meatheads.
F:Was happy to see some veggie options(not always so in Iowa) for the wife and the pizza is good enough. Probably wouldn't eat here if not for the beer selection though.
V:Can be a bit pricey on the pints($6), but they have weeknight specials which knock them down to $3. I think Monday is any pint for $3, then the other days are certain beers like Anchor Steam or Fat Tire.
11-04-2010 03:12:14 | More by AugiePrimrose
4.3/5 rDev -2.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | $$
This was a great place to find in Iowa. Not familiar with the surrounding bars I found this place asking around. It is one of my favorite bars that I have visited of recent.
The pub styled restaurant is very dark but lively, the bartender was very nice and very knowledgeable in his beers. Found off the beaten path of most Iowa City bars, it did not bring in the typical college crowd.
The selection of beer was very impressive and overwhelmed me at first. With beer from all over the world I was taken aback at how many countries were represented. Even outside the common ones like Belgium, Germany and now America.
On tap there was a great selection of about 20 beers, all different.
Overall, if you are within an hour of this Beer Bar/Restaurant and want a great place to get a drink, you need to stop by. You may find something on tap or on their menu that is new.
12-28-2009 04:42:30 | More by AndrewD1022
4.64/5 rDev +5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | $$
OK, so I'm getting carried away, but this place was exceptional, especially for middle america.
I counted 20 or so beers on tap and the bottle list is extensive.
I had the Blanche de Bruxelles on tap. Of course the little Manneken Pis on the beer tap drew my eye immediately. My friend had a Fuller's London Pride on tap and his wife has a Pinkus Ur Pils from a half liter bottle. Both seemed fresh and tasty.
Sad to say, it had been a long day and I was driving so I only could try one.
Not usually open over the lunch hour, so plan on going there in the evening.
07-06-2009 18:52:21 | More by bnietz
4.8/5 rDev +8.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | $$
This place is an amazing breath of fresh air in the vast open plains of Iowa. I have never been to a bar in Iowa that has such an immense selection of delicious, hard-to-obtain beers.
The selection varies from month to month, but there is always something wonderous that will surely please you, your family, or a date. Beer exploration is a must in this world. As such, I have found it necessary to keep this place on my list for years.
Don't be fooled by the location, stuck inconspicuously between two much brighter locales, or the drab interior, you will enjoy yourself if you enter. What sets it apart, other than the exceptional beer selection, is that it is not a loud college puke/slutfest. It is calm, quiet, fragrant and somber.
03-16-2009 19:18:31 | More by cullenvens
Sanctuary Restaurant & Pub in Iowa City, IA
96 out of 100 based on 22 ratings.